Who Should Teach Your Kids – Harvey or Hildebrand?

If any good has come from the crimes of Weinstein, it is in the fact that the champions of sex as recreation are being forced to contradict the philosophy of their own artworks.

Hildebrand’s book sets before us a beautiful vision of how true sex is pure sex and can only be understood as such when set within the broader framework of life as a whole. The alternative? Outsourcing sex education to whoever succeeds Harvey Weinstein, I guess. Which, in a sane world, would result in a report to the Child Protection Agency.


As the Harvey Weinstein scandal rumbles on, it is clear that no amount of money donated to liberal causes will purchase him a “get out of jail free” card. Even in an amoral age such as ours, sexual assault can prove an unforgivable sin.

There is, of course, an irony in this. Hollywood has done as much as any cultural institution to demystify sex and turn it into a recreational activity. That is the consistent message of many of its movies. Yet in the Weinstein debacle, Hollywood’s most powerful players are implicitly acknowledging that they have promoted a lie, because sex is more than a game.

It is not just the lack of consent that makes Hollywood types, and all the rest of us, regard sexual assault as so heinous. We instinctively know that to slap someone’s face without their consent, unpleasant as that may be, is not as traumatic as to rape them. Sexual assault is deeply significant because, pace Hollywood, sex is deeply significant, and intrinsically so—and no amount of pop-culture trivialization can remove this stubborn fact. We can be grateful that Hollywood’s great and good are now acknowledging it. Whether it will make any difference to their future products remains to be seen, but I have my suspicions.

While one expects Hollywood to have a naïve and reductionist view of sex—that’s what sells, after all—it is worrying that the same appears more and more true of conservative Christians. Over the years, I have had many pastoral conversations with traditional Protestant and Evangelical friends, which demonstrate that they generally understand sex to be something reserved exclusively for a man and a woman joined in matrimony. So far, so good. But the conversation then frequently turns to something like this: “You’re a pastor. So if we’re married, what do you think we can get away with?”

That question is a poker tell, revealing a whole philosophy (or lack thereof) of sex. It helps explain the disastrous success among Evangelicals of Mark Driscoll’s ghastly book on marriage, with its advocacy of various forms of sexual deviance. To frame such a question is to show that one has bought into the wider world’s view of the matter. Such people do not really disagree with the culture’s view of what sex is. They merely quibble over who can engage in it and with whom. Sex is for them, as for their secular friends, a form of recreation. Yes, the rules for Christians are that the game can only be played by two people who are joined in a lifelong bond. But other than that, the game is the same as you find in the culture that surrounds us.

In the long term, this is disastrous. First, it makes sexual ethics arbitrary and therefore unstable. The question of why the game should be restricted to just two players, and that for life, becomes impossible to answer with any degree of conviction or coherence. Second, it highlights the great weakness in much thinking (or lack thereof) relative to sexual ethics: The nature and meaning of the act is treated in isolation from much broader questions. The question of what sex is for cannot be divorced from questions about what the body is for, and questions about what the body is for cannot be divorced from the deepest question of all: What are people for?

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